Bakersfield Property Division Attorneys
Protecting Your Assets & Rights During Property Division
Property division is often one of the most complex and combative parts of a divorce. When property with significant emotional and financial value is at stake, having a lawyer you trust to protect your assets is vital.
At Alternative Divorce Solutions, our Bakersfield property division lawyers help Californians protect their property and best interests during property division disputes.
How Does Property Get Divided in California?
California is a community property state, meaning that assets and liabilities acquired during a marriage must be distributed equitably between both parties (unless otherwise specified in a legally binding contract such as a marital agreement).
Community property is anything that can be bought, sold, or has value. Some common examples of community property include:
- Real estate;
- Bank accounts;
- Pension plans and 401ks;
- Credit card debt.
Courts often push for an equal division of community property under the assumption that such arrangements are simpler. However, if one party clearly owns more of a piece of community property or contributes to it more extensively than their spouse (such as a business owned primarily by one party), the court may advocate for an unequal distribution of property.
Property is also more likely to be distributed unevenly if it's commingled. For example, say one party buys a house prior to marriage. The down payment would be considered separate property. However, mortgage payments or renovations paid for during the marriage may be considered community property. As such, the court may award the initial owner a greater stake in the house to reflect their initial investment.
Many Californians mistakenly assume that assets and liabilities acquired by one spouse during a marriage will count as separate property, but that's not always the case. For example, if a spouse accrues credit card debt during a marriage, the court may require both parties to pay it off, even if only one party had their name on the card.
Spouses have a few options when it comes to deciding how they want to distribute community property:
- Draft a property division agreement (often as part of a summary or uncontested dissolution, or a marital agreement). If parties agree on how to distribute property, they can draft an agreement containing those terms.
- Turn to the court for a decision (often as part of a contested divorce). If the parties cannot agree, they can instead rely on a judge to determine how to distribute community property.
In either scenario, the parties must disclose all information regarding separate and community property they possess to the court and each other to ensure an equitable resolution.
At Alternative Divorce Solutions, we help Californians protect their assets and rights during property division disputes.
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